Treating Epilepsy with Light Irradiation Therapy

Don’t Use Pulsed Light

Devices with PULSED visible light, especially in the 5-10 Hz range should not be used (often used in externally applied hair-growth and pain management with low level laser treatments). It can induce an epileptic attack.

Study suggests therapeutic potential

A recent animal study by Radwan et al suggests that daily laser irradiation (90 mW at 830 nM) of the cortex and hippocampus region of the brain could have a positive outcome on nervous system injuries such as epilepsy.[1]

The study investigated the effect of laser irradiation on the levels of  neurotransmitters in the cortex and hippocampus regions of the brain of epilepsy induced mice. Focusing on this study’s relevance to epilepsy through the hippocampus pathway: one speculated mechanism for some forms of inherited epilepsy are mutations of the genes that allow defective sodium channels to stay open for too long, thus making the neuron hyper-excitable. Glutamate, an excitatory amino-acid neurotransmitter that’s often combined with sodium, may be released from these neurons in large amounts, which triggers excessive calcium release in these post-synaptic cells. Such excessive calcium release can be neurotoxic to the affected cell. The hippocampus (see the figure below), which contains a large volume of just such glutamatergic neurons  is especially vulnerable to epileptic seizure, subsequent spread of excitation, and possible neuronal death.

Radwan et al found that after a session of laser irradiation, the level of the excitatory glutamate activity were reduced to the original restive state, thus calming the epileptic activities.

There is good basis to hypothesize that the hippocampus would be more easily treated if red light (as 830 nM is infra-red) is directed to it through the nasal cavity. There is much fewer tissue layers to penetrate (in particular the dense skull (pardon the pun)), so shorter wavelength than 830 nM and output energy lower than 90 mW would be sufficient for treatment. Based on this, it is feasible that our low level laser of 655 nM and 5 mW would at least achieve the task of controlling the release of the active glutamic compounds systemically in the area of the hippocampus.

The cerebral cortex is like the “skin” for a large part of the fore brain. As Radwan also finds positive outcomes from illuminating the cerebral cortex, it seconds the many studies on photoneurostimulation that the neurons are receptive to light irradiation as a healing or rehabilitation method. The delivery of light through the nasal cavity in the intranasal method is a path that has low resistance to at least the front, mid and lower regions of the brain. That includes the hippocampus, which is an area of focus for modulating epileptic conditions.

Summary

We can summarize as follows:

1. We would expect no negative outcome (no harm) from the use of Intranasal Light Therapy for epilepsy PROVIDED that the light is not pulsed.

2. We expect positive outcomes for many (probably not all) epilepsy patients using Intranasal Light Therapy; the low level laser version in particular.

3. Because of many patients’ sensitivity to light, the treatments should be monitored to see they are particularly sensitive this too.

References

1. Radwan N M, El Hay Ahmed N A, Ibrahim K M, Khedr M E, Aziz M A, Khadrawy Y A (2009). Effect of infrared laser irradiation on amino acid neurotransmitters in an epileptic animal model induced by pilocarpine. Photomed Laser Surg. 27(3): 401-409.